Looking for the best tours in Cologne? You're at the right place!
I've compiled a list of the best Cologne tours that will make your trip fuss-free and memorable. Take your pick from sight-seeing tours to segway tours, and from river cruise to brewery tours. We have it all.
Best Tours in Cologne
1. Best Cologne City Walking Tour: Old Town Highlights Walking Tour
Experience Cologne's rich history and stunning sights on foot.
Whenever my international friends inquire about a walking tour recommendation, I consistently point them to this particular one!
The tour guide, a humorous chap, ensures a thoroughly enjoyable experience, even for children, while enlightening you about the abundant history and culture of our historic city. In fact, the two hours will literally fly by.
From the world-famous Cologne Cathedral with its intricate Gothic façade, to the largest Romanesque church in Cologne, every stop on this tour brings to life the long-standing heritage of this old town.
One key feature sets apart this walking tour — it's not just focused on ticking off a list of sights but truly unveiling the thousands years old story of our dear Cologne.
My favorite part of the highly-rated tour is visiting remnants from the Roman era such as the Roman villa (where you can spot the intricate ancient mosaic floor), a Roman tomb, and palace ruins.
You'll also have the chance to wander through the old markets and see the famous Hohenzollern Bridge with thousands of glittering love locks.
Your purchase doesn't just cover entry tickets but also adds hotel pickup-dropoff service and a souvenir!
Plus, their considerate cancellation policy adds peace-of-mind by allowing you full refund if cancelling 24 hours ahead. Lastly their COVID-19 precautions ensure your safety throughout your journey.
- Engaging and immersive guided tour of Cologne's Old Town highlights
- Flexible cancellation policy for peace of mind
- Convenient hotel pickup and drop - off included
- Suitable for wheelchair users, making it accessible to all travelers
- Learn about Cologne's Roman past through fascinating artifacts that date back 2000 years
- Explore old markets and visit the Old Historic Town Hall, experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of Cologne's old town
- Popularity and limited availability may make it difficult to secure a spot
- The walking tour may not be suitable for those with difficulty walking long distances
- Some participants may find the pace of the tour fast, making it challenging to fully appreciate all the highlights
2. Best Cologne Boat Tour: Top Sights Rhine River Cruise
Discover a different side to Cologne's iconic sights on a boat tour.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to see beautiful Cologne in all its glory is from the water. This Rhine River cruise is my top pick, which hits all the key sights - our iconic cathedral, the old town, and Rheinauhafen's L-shaped crane houses. 
During the day tours, there's running commentary (through loudspeakers) in both English and German, so you know which of this historic city's landmarks you're cruising by.
However, what I recommend is just to sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning Rhine panorama.
What truly sets this cruise apart for me are its friendly staff (unlike some other cruises I've been on) and the boat ride is 1.5 hours long; just long enough to really soak in the views, but not too long that you're bored and hoping for the tour to end.
There's also a nice little onboard bar where you can order a local Kölsch beer or coffee along with cake as you drink in the scenic vistas all around.
I highly recommend getting your ticket online, because you'll get to bypass ticket lines - a massive boon during peak tourism season.
Free cancellation up until 24 hours prior encourages flexibility making this ideal regardless if your plans change last minute, or if you decide on a spontaneous cruise.
- Explore the beauty of Cologne from a unique perspective
- Indulge in local treats like Kölsch beer, as well as cake and coffee during the cruise
- Flexible booking: You can reserve your spot now and pay later, giving you the freedom to adjust your travel plans.
- Hassle-free cancellation: You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance and receive a full refund.
- Skip the ticket line: No need to wait in line.
- Limited seating capacity may result in crowded conditions on the boat
- Some people say they can't hear the recorded commentary well when other guests are noisy, but that's usually up to your luck.
- Optional food and drinks onboard can be expensive
- They allow guests using wheelchairs or walkers, but actually toilets and the open deck require using the stairs.
3. Best Cologne Brewery Tour: Brewery Tour with Three "Kölsch" Tastings
Learn About Cologne's Unique Beer Culture.
If you want to know the rules to ordering and drinking Kölsch like a "Colognian", this brewery tour is a must!
A distinct feature of this brewery tour is how authentic it is. Don't expect a formal, structured trip. A bit like a pub crawl, they will take you to the best brewhouses and, just like a local, you'll have to find your own seats and order your own Kölsch!
If you're fortunate, you might even come across a cheeky "koebe" or waiter (it's part of the tradition!).
Our guide was well-versed in Cologne and brewery history, so expect three tastings of delectable Kölsch while learning fascinating stories behind each brew.
The only catch? The tour doesn't include the cost of Kölsch, so the tour only covers the guide's time. But don't worry, a small glass is only around €2,20 - so order your fill!
The opportunity to mingle with others who enjoy a good time is another high point for me; it makes every tour unpredictable and unique. After the beer-tasting tour concluded, some of us decided to keep the party going at another brauhaus our guide recommended!
- Glimpse into Kölsch beer & brewhouse culture unique to the region
- Drinking Kölsch!
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund
- Reserve now & pay later: Keep your travel plans flexible
- Live tour guide available in German, English
- Does not actually include a tour of the beer-making process, which according to reviewers is a disappointment
- Peak hours may make it challenging to get a seat at the brewery
- The price of Kölsch isn't part of the tour price.
4. Best Cologne Bike Tour: Guided E-Bike Riviera Tour Along the Rhine
Explore Cologne via scenic guided e-bike tour!
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing this new e-bike tour along the Rhine River - and I had a blast!
I thought I knew Cologne fairly well, but we explored many little-known spots along the cycling path, away from bustling city.
And unlike classic bicycles, e-bikes make for an effortless ride, regardless of your fitness level.
Our bilingual guide was friendly and well-versed with local lore, peppering in fascinating anecdotes about Cologne's history as we pedaled along. You could tell he's very passionate about sharing these stories with travelers to Cologne.
One standout moment was crossing over the Rhine on a ferry boat - and making a pitstop at Zündorf, an old fishing village. Also, nothing beats enjoying a Kölsch beer while soaking up scenic riverside sights.
Rushing your e-bike along the paths, with the wind whistling in your ears, will also be a refreshing change from the usual bus or cruise experience.
In conclusion, if you're keen to explore beyond typical tourist routes or are simply craving outdoor activity during your stay in Cologne – this off-beat guided bike tour is well worth it!
- Easy and Fun for All: Suitable for heights of 155 cm and above, even kids can join with parent/guardian consent.
- Hassle-Free Experience: All necessary equipment provided, including helmets and rain ponchos.
- Stunning Views: Discover the beautiful Rhine River and its scenic surroundings
- Engaging bilingual guides provide fascinating insights into Cologne's history and culture
- Small group size ensures personalized attention and a more intimate experience.
- Limited availability for larger groups
- May not be suitable for individuals with limited biking experience
- Not recommended for those who prefer less physical activity
5. Best Cologne Segway Tour: City Highlights Segway Tour
Experience Cologne's highlights on a thrilling and convenient Segway tour.
When my in-laws came to visit, I booked this Segway tour for them and they absolutely loved.
This tour is a fantastic way to see both the old and modern landmarks of Cologne, all without the need to walk. And you have more freedom to move around compared to a bus or boat tour!
The comfortable Segway ride offers a comfy way to get a special view of the city's culture and history. You'll glide by cool spots like Rheinpark and Rheinauhafen with a nice guide by your side.
They say you don't need any Segway skills beforehand, and it's true. My mother-in-law got a speedy lesson at the beginning of the tour, and before you knew it, she was happily cruising around on her own.
They said the highlight of their trip was undoubtedly crossing the Hohenzollern Bridge, and taking in the magnificent sights of River Rhine.
This Segway tour offers free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance alongside flexible payment options – something truly beneficial for those (like me) who prefer keeping their travel plans adaptable in these uncertain times.
However, they do have certain restrictions regarding participant weight limits and health conditions so make sure you consider these before booking your spot!
Overall, I highly recommend experiencing Cologne with this exceptional Segway tour.
- Convenient and enjoyable way to explore Cologne's landmarks
- Skip the crowds and traffic by taking a Segway ride
- No upfront payment required; pay on the day of the tour
- Explore the city's highlights in just 2 hours
- Small group size for a more personalized experience
- Potential risk of accidents or injuries while riding a segway.
- Not suitable for those with mobility issues or difficulties balancing on a segway.
- Limited interaction with locals and the opportunity to experience local culture compared to other tour options.
6. Best Cologne Bus Tour: 1.5-Hour Comedy Bus Tour
Laughter-filled sightseeing experience in Cologne's comedy bus tour.
For those who seek a unique and entertaining spin on the conventional city tour, you'll have an exceptional time on this Comedy Bus Tour.
It's not your average sightseeing experience; it's essentially an engaging moving stand-up comedy show that doubles-up as a city bus tour.
Remember to bring along your sense of humor, and be prepared to giggle your way through insightful information about Cologne's major sights!
As you pass by key landmarks in the bus, your comedian host candidly share their quips and tales about these spots, all while you enjoy a complimentary beer—definitely not something one would find on traditional tourist routes!
The spontaneous humor and tongue-in-cheek quips about Cologne kept us tickled pink throughout the 1.5-hour journey. Enjoy performances from a range of comedians, such as Keirut Wenzel, Jessica Sinapi, Dirk Volpert, Marcel Höfs, or Klaus Teigel. 
I believe it's worth every penny for travelers looking for out-of-the-box experiences in Cologne—the laughs are just unbeatable! However, do note that all performances are conducted only in German.
- Laugh out loud with hilarious stand-up comedy while sightseeing
- Get to see all the major attractions of the city in just 1.5 hours
- Enjoy an entertaining blend of information and comedy about Cologne
- Includes a complimentary beer
- Limited seating availability, may not be suitable for large groups
- Some jokes and humor may not resonate with all audience members
- Only available every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
- Only available in German
7. Best Cologne Food Tour: 3-Hour Südstadt Food Tour
Savor International Delicacies on a Guided Food Tour
This tour offers a unique exploration of Südstadt, a historical district in Germany's oldest city. Guiding you through a three-hour exciting walk is a certified guide with rich knowledge surrounding the culture, architecture and food of Cologne.
Not only do you get to discover hidden gems in this vibrant neighborhood such a second-hand shop and a Cologne brewery (pub that brews their own beer), you'll get to taste five "international delicacies" based in this district.
From savory bites to sweet treat, this guided tour takes your tastebuds on an intriguing journey.
As you enjoy treats at each stopover point, your guide will share absorb captivating stories about the history of House Balchem, the significance of St. Severin, and intriguing tales from the lesser-explored (also known as "wrong") side of the Rhine.
This culinary journey through Südstadt promises a rich tapestry of flavors and a deeper understanding of the city's past and present.
It also provides great value for a small group wanting an intimate tasting experience while exploring Cologne.
Do note that some eateries may not be able to accommodate wheelchairs or rolling walkers- making it unsuitable for some; similarly children below ten years are recommended to not partake in the tour.
- Bilingual tour guides offer explanations and commentary in both German and English
- Visit local eateries and restaurants in the Südstadt area
- Opportunity to taste 5 different delicacies from around the world
- Gain knowledge about the rich culture, architecture, and history of Südstadt
- Included drinks make for a complete and enjoyable experience
- Limited variety of cuisines available
- Not suitable for those with dietary restrictions or food allergies
- May not be suitable for individuals with limited mobility due to the walking tour format
8. Best Cologne Wine Tour: Wine Tasting Private Tour with Wine Expert
Ultimate private wine tasting experience with a knowledgeable wine expert.
Cologne is more renowned for its Kölsch beer, but you can find small, family-run vineyards in the nearby countryside along the Rhine River.
During our wine tasting tour, we were treated to five reds and whites, which also featured local wines. For wine enthusiasts, this is a fantastic opportunity to savor the unique flavors of grapes grown in Cologne's soil!
We opted for the 3-hour tour, which not only included a delightful stroll through the charming Old Town but also paired our tastings with delicious appetizers perfectly suited for food pairing.
Our host was apparently a 5-star wine expert. She was highly knowledgeable in everything about wine we could think of - winemaking, grape cultivation, bottling, you name it.
While I'm more of a beer guy myself, I'll admit I left with a new appreciation of German wines.
By the way, there's also a shorter 2-hour tour. Patrons can taste four regional wines instead of five, and they are accompanied by a wine expert. Sadly, there are no appetizers for this option, which I felt would have elevated the entire experience.
- Exclusive access to a 5 - Star Wine Expert for personalized wine tasting and knowledge
- Gain in-depth knowledge of the wine-making process from grape to bottle
- Sample and enjoy unique wines at popular wine bars, curated specifically for you
- Reserve now & pay later, keeping your travel plans flexible
- Limited time options (2-hour or 3-hour) may not be suitable for those who want a longer wine tasting experience.
- The tour focuses primarily on German wines, so if you prefer other types of wine, this might not be the best choice.
- The private tour with a wine expert may come at a higher price compared to group wine tours.
9. Best Street Art Tour: Cologne Street Art Bike Tour
I absolutely loved this street art bike tour. It's an art and culture lover's dream come true, offering an unusual side of Cologne through its vibrant street art, and quirky neighborhoods.
Most intriguingly, you'll explore this on a bike - so you get to really cover lots of ground!
The tour takes you across the "alternative" neighborhoods of Cologne including the Belgian Quarter and Ehrenfeld.
What makes these areas stand out is that they are essentially open-air galleries, with art pieces scattered in unexpected places.
It's a great escape from the super crowded tourist spots, and it helps you see things you'd usually just walk by. I noticed that even teenagers were having a blast on the street art tour, which is not usually the case with these kinds of tours.
As we cycled around, our guide kept us engrossed with stories behind each piece of work - from powerful murals on towering walls to subtle pieces tucked away in everyday locations. The tour was 3 hours long, but it passed by much too fast.
Our breaks often turned into fascinating discussions around art techniques or socio-cultural themes reflected in these street masterpieces.
With free cancellation up to 24 hours before commencement, I believe anyone visiting Cologne should make time for this unique activity into its bustling creative underbelly!
- The perfect alternative to the usual city tours
- Gain a deeper understanding of the artistic culture and history of the city
- Enjoy the convenience and flexibility of exploring by bike, covering more ground than on foot
- Option to personalize your tour experience with a private tour or join others for a shared experience
- Limited availability for private tours may make it difficult to secure a spot
- The bike tour may not be suitable for individuals who are not comfortable riding bicycles or have physical limitations
- Weather conditions can affect the overall enjoyment of the tour, particularly if it is raining or extremely hot
10. Best Cologne Specialty Tour: Guided Tour of Melatenfriedhof Cemetery
Explore the fascinating history and beauty of Cologne's oldest cemetery.
This highly popular cemetery tour, conducted in German, visits one of Germany's most captivating historic sites, the Melaten Cemetery.
Melaten Cemetery is among Cologne's oldest cemeteries, in use since the early 19th century. So it preserves the city's history and reflects evolving burial and commemoration styles over the centuries.
What set this city tour apart was our guide. She skillfully addressed all our questions with respect and a touch of humor, captivating us with intriguing stories connected to the cemetery and its gravesites.
I won't give away all the details, but the haunting history of this place really sucks you in!
Many interesting figures have also been laid to rest here—including famed artists, politicians, and even actors!
Some include Heinrich Böll (Nobel laureate in literature), Willy Millowitsch (famous actor), and Konrad Adenauer (Germany's first post-war Chancellor)! 
- Gain a new understanding of Cologne's history through its oldest cemetery
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund
- Flexible booking: Reserve now & pay later
- Some may find the subject matter of a cemetery to be morbid or unsettling
- Depending on personal beliefs, some individuals may find visiting cemeteries to be disrespectful or uncomfortable
- Conducted only in German
11. Best Self-Guided Tour: Roman History Self-Guided Audio Guide Walking Tour
Step into ancient Rome with a fascinating audio walking tour.
Did you know over 2,000 years ago, Cologne was established as a Roman colony?
This self-guided audio walking tour explores remnants of this Roman heritage, through archaeological sites, Roman artifacts, and even sections of the city's ancient walls.
With expert commentary from Willem Fromm—an accomplished historian and podcaster—I enjoyed the freedom to explore the city at my own pace; spending more time at places that intrigued me without feeling rushed.
The tour starts with an insightful look into the city's old northern gate near Cologne Cathedral - then it just keeps getting better.
Standout moments included walking down one of the oldest continually used roads north of Alps, discovering an archaeological gem within a metro station, and peering through the window of Roman-Germanic Museum which houses one of world's largest & best-preserved mosaics.
But what caught my attention most were stories about unexpected remnants: like an ancient sewer that survived wars and finding traces of Romans in places you'd least expect.
For anyone seeking a captivating journey back in time filled with intriguing tales about how 500 years under Romans shaped Cologne—one can't go wrong with this self-guided audio guide walking tour.
- Audio guide includes both English and German
- You'll have lifetime access to the audio tour
- I liked that the app gave me offline access, so even when I lost my internet connection midway the tour, I could still use it.
- Explore at your own pace
- You get unlimited access to the audio guide before your booked date or choose a virtual tour option
- Limited interaction and engagement compared to a guided tour with a live guide
- The audio guide may not provide real - time updates or information on current archaeological discoveries or developments in Roman history
- The self - guided nature requires visitors to navigate the city themselves, which may be challenging for those unfamiliar with Cologne.
Benefits of Taking a Guided Tour in Cologne
Expert knowledge and insights
Guided tours in Cologne offer knowledge and insights that you can't get anywhere else (unless you're willing to dive through pages of research on the internet).
There's no better way to get the most out of your trip by investing in local experts (live or in audio) with expertise in Cologne history and culture, and who can make that information engaging and fun!
Oftentimes you can't find that information online either. I cannot count the number of times I've discovered something new about a place I thought I knew, thanks to a guide!
For example, museum visits become much more intriguing when guided by an expert who delves into the nuances of every exhibit or artifact on display.
So the distinct advantage of these tours is experiencing Cologne with those who know it best!
Time-saving and hassle-free experience
I love taking guided tours in Cologne because they offer a time-saving and hassle-free experience. The city tours, museum visits, boat trips, and group activities are well-organized which saves me a lot of planning and stress.
For an efficient exploration of the historic Old Town or an in-depth insight into wine production—many times in English no less—I highly recommend a guided tour.
Personalized and informative experiences
Whether you're exploring the historic Old Town, cruising along the Rhine River, or tasting traditional Kölsch beer at local breweries, the tours are usually personalized to visitors new to Cologne.
With knowledgeable guides leading the way, you'll gain insider insights into Cologne's rich history and culture. Learn fascinating facts about iconic landmarks like Cologne Cathedral (the Dom) or discover hidden gems like Melatenfriedhof Cemetery.
Oftentimes these specialized tours cater to your interests and preferences, from foodie excursions in Südstadt to wine tastings led by experts, there's something for everyone.
Tips for Choosing the Best Cologne Tour
Consider your interests and preferences
When choosing the best Cologne tour, it is essential to consider your interests and preferences. Just because a particular tour is the top "must-do" thing, doesn't mean you will enjoy it.
If art and culture is your passion, you'll likely appreciate the street art tour more than the comedy bus tour!
So, whether you are interested in history, architecture, food, or simply exploring the city's vibrant atmosphere, be sure to choose a tour that aligns with what you love.
Read reviews and ratings
I always make it a point to read reviews and ratings before choosing a tour.
It's essential to see what other travelers have experienced and how they've rated their tours. By reading these reviews, I can get an idea of the quality, reliability, and the reality behind each tour, behind the official description.
Reviews also provide valuable insights into specific aspects of the tour, such as the personality and expertise of the guide (very important!), how they react to unexpected circumstances and whether they actually deliver what's promised.
These testimonials serve as valuable feedback about various aspects like itinerary planning, route selection, guide interactions, customer service, and overall satisfaction with the tour provider.
Additionally, checking photos shared by other travelers gives me a visual preview that helps me determine if a particular tour aligns with my expectations!
Taking this extra step ensures that you select the best Cologne tour for an unforgettable experience.
Look for experienced and knowledgeable guides
Experienced and knowledgeable guides are an essential aspect to consider when choosing the best Cologne tour for you. Having a guide who is seasoned and well-versed in the city's history, culture, and attractions can "make or break" your experience.
I've seen inexperienced guides who are unable to handle guests who become unruly, and it spoils the entire tour for everyone else.
I value punctuality and it irks me when a guide allows other paying guests to be tardy and drag down the entire tour group - while an experienced guide is better at handling such situations.
You're also paying for their expert knowledge, stories and insights about hidden gems that you might have otherwise missed on your own. With their guidance, you gain a deeper understanding of Cologne's rich past and vibrant present.
So having a guide who knows their stuff is key for me.
Check availability and schedules
To make the most of your time in Cologne, it's essential to check availability and schedules of the tours you're interested in.
For example, if your must-see attraction is only open on Sundays, then you'll have to prioritize your itinerary on Sunday for that.
Consider factors such as tour duration, departure times, and frequency when checking availability. Don't forget to plan ahead if you have specific dates or times in mind for certain tours.
Checking availability and schedules allows you to organize your itinerary effectively and maximize your enjoyment while exploring everything that Cologne has to offer.
Consider unique experiences
For those who prefer something off the beaten track, there are many specialized tours that delve into the alternative or darker side of Cologne. There's even a Ford Factory Tour in Cologne.
However, a drawback for those who don't speak our native tongue, these tours are mainly conducted only in German!
Conclusion: Tours in Cologne
There are plenty of ways to explore the rich history, culture, and bustling atmosphere of Cologne. From exploring the Old Town on a walking tour to cruising along the Rhine River on a boat tour, there's a tour for everyone.
1. What are the popular Cologne tours?
2. How long do the Cologne tours usually last?
The duration of Cologne tours can vary depending on the specific tour package chosen. Most tours range from 1 to 4 hours in duration.
3. Are there guided audio tours available for exploring Cologne?
Yes, there are guided audio tours available for exploring Cologne that provide insightful information about the city's history and attractions as you explore at your own pace.
4. Can I customize a private tour of Cologne?
Yes, many tour operators offer customizable private tours of Cologne where you can tailor the itinerary according to your interests and preferences.
5. Do I need to book in advance for a Cologne tour?
It is recommended to book in advance for a more convenient experience, especially during peak seasons when availability may be limited. However, some walk-in options may also be available depending on the tour operator's policies.
1: Rheinauhafen Köln - Das Online-Portal für unser Veedel am Rhein, retrieved from https://www.rheinauhafen-koeln.de/
2: What Is a Kölsch Beer and Why Should You Be Drinking One?, retrieved from https://www.foodandwine.com/drinks/what-is-kolsch
3: Keirut Wenzel - IMDb, retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1053445/
4: Famous Memorials in Melaten-Friedhof, retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/639212/famous-memorials